Interview with: Marina Hadjisoteriou, Partner
Michael Kyprianou & Co. LLC | View firm profile
What do you see as the main points that differentiate MICHAEL KYPRIANOU & CO. LLC from your competitors?
MICHAEL KYPRIANOU & CO. LLC is one of Cyprus’ largest full-service firms and we are able to advise our clients on a broad spectrum of their businesses, from corporate and tax matters to dispute resolution.
It is one the few Cyprus firms with 3 offices in the main cities of Cyprus (Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos). Its international presence has expanded significantly with offices in Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki), Malta, the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), the Ukraine (Kyiv) and, the most recent addition, London in the UK. We are the only firm in Cyprus which has a substantive presence in so many countries.
We are invited members of exclusive and specialised networks such as the International Fraud Group, a select group of 20 firms specialising in asset tracing and recovery (as well as Multilaw and World Link for Law). We combine our close relationship with other international law firms and our international presence to provide assistance worldwide for our clients’ benefit. That’s a real differentiator for us.
Furthermore, we are frequently and repeatedly asked to partner with firms in other jurisdictions, providing local advice and support to internationally renowned firms.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
The Cyprus Council of Ministers with the aim to further encourage Foreign Direct Investment and to attract high net worth individuals to settle and do business in Cyprus, has approved very recently a series of changes in the Cyprus Investment Program in order to make it more targeted and trustworthy. The said changes will take effect from May 2019. Very briefly, there is now a requirement on the applicant to hold a Schengen Visa, a mandatory contribution to the Foundation for Research and Innovation will have to be made and the investment must be retained for a period of at least five years instead of three years. We believe that the said changes will not have an adverse effect in the number of people applying to obtain Cyprus citizenship and this practice will continue to grow.
Additionally, the establishment of a Cyprus Commercial Court, which will accommodate and attract high-value commercial disputes, is underway.
Initially, the plan was for the Cyprus Commercial Court to be set up in the beginning of 2018, however there was some delay as it was later decided for the Admiralty cases to be also dealt by the new court under its new name ‘Commercial and Admiralty Court’. We are following these developments closely and we understand that the Legal Service will soon complete the legislative review of the relevant bill that has been prepared by the Ministry of Justice.
The establishment of this new Court which will deal with cases of a commercial nature only if the disputed amount exceeds €2.000.000, is highly anticipated as it will provide a quick resolution to commercial disputes (the goal is for such disputes to be resolved within 9-12 months from filing). This would obviously provide more confidence to clients when choosing Cyprus as a jurisdiction in which to establish and operate their business.
What is important to note is that the new Court will have the possibility to hear disputes in relation to international transactions when none of the parties has its residence in Cyprus, provided that the parties have agreed in writing that the dispute should be heard by the said new Court.
A judgment of such a Court would easily be enforceable in all EU Member States but may also be enforceable outside of the EU, depending on the applicable international conventions or bilateral treaties concluded between the Republic of Cyprus and the relevant foreign country. Accordingly, we believe that the new Court will be a new alternative to international commercial dispute resolution.
Furthermore, the Cyprus funds industry has also been developing for the last few years, especially after the recovery of the economy following the financial crisis and the sovereign rating of the country being upgraded to investment grade. The latest developments in the legal and regulatory sector, and the continuous efforts of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (“CySEC”) to modernize and enhance the regulatory regimes and stay compliant with European standards, have had a very positive impact on the sector, with the number of funds and assets under management growing rapidly in the last years, and the outlook for the future looking promising.
The Registered Alternative Investment Fund (“RAIF”) is one of the latest investment vehicles introduced in the last amendment of the Law; the novelty introduced lies with the fact that these Funds, contrary to traditional AIFs, will not fall under the sphere of regulation of CySEC, and hence need not be licensed by the Commission. To fulfil the managerial, compliance and supervisory needs of a RAIF, the Law stipulates that an Alternative Investment Fund Manager (“AIFM”) must be appointed to provide the necessary services essential for the functioning of the Fund.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
To ensure that our firm is best in class, in all respects, in the markets we operate in, we refocused substantial internal resources to further improve the way our firm is managed; that is, identify and implement improvements in the way we work. To that end, we recruited a manager with a legal background from the UK, with experience both from law firms and in-house legal teams to lead the way. As we bring about improvements to the way we operate and manage our business, our lawyers’ time will be freed up to deal with what matters most – serving our clients. Clearly, our clients only stand to benefit from this change!
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
It does! We always try to keep abreast of the latest technological developments to make efficiency gains and adapt to an increasingly popular agile working culture.
We try to keep clients up to date by posting about the latest amendments to legislation and new interesting judgments on the firm’s website and also sharing these links via social media.
We also appreciate that clients may need to contact us outside regular office hours for very urgent matters and we can always be contacted via a number of different channels. This is always balanced with the need to ensure that communications and the clients’ information remain secure at all times.
Furthermore, we have easy and speedy access to online worldwide databases, an essential for legal research purposes.
Finally, our experienced in-house IT department ensures that the firm’s operations run smoothly and securely.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
MICHAEL KYPRIANOU & CO. LLC was set up more than 25 years ago and since then we have provided effective and efficient legal solutions for our clients numerous times, taking into consideration not only the legal but also their business needs and objectives. Therefore, it is difficult to identify only one practical example.
We take pride in ensuring that our clients receive the best possible service at all times. We always ensure that we really understand what is at stake for the clients’ businesses. We believe that the most important skills in building any client relationship are listening and flexibility which means thinking outside the box, on the spot and under pressure. It also means that we appreciate that great service can vary from client to client and that by asking the right questions and addressing the clients’ concerns promptly and efficiently, we can always be one step ahead.
Particularly in relation to the area of Dispute Resolution, which I specialise in, we have been successful in complex and high value court cases in which novel points of law were raised.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Nowadays the clients expect us to have a deeper understanding of their needs and industry specifics, in order to be able to provide them with strategic directions and not merely legal advice.
Our diverse team of lawyers with their combined skills and insightful knowledge of various industries across different jurisdictions, can provide holistic guidance in relation to strategic business directions.
In the next three years, we aim to expand our international presence and grow our market share by taking the time to attract and retain the best talent and remain a leading law firm, supporting its domestic and international clients’ needs on an everyday basis.